Teaching can be an isolating experience. I spend the vast majority of my time in class rather than with colleagues and admin work is completed at hoteling stations where I tend to be by myself. It is unlike any other job that I’ve had at the college or in marketing. In those cases, I was constantly surrounded by my peers throughout the day. My colleagues would sit close by, share projects, and even eat together. As a result, there were impromptu moments for conversation and more importantly, collaboration. As a contract faculty, collaboration is unlikely to happen by chance so I’ve had to develop a Personal Learning Network (PLN) in order to connect and collaborate with other teachers.
A PLN is the group of people that you choose to surround yourself with. It’s your team. It’s the group of people who will challenge your assumptions, that you will learn from, and who will motivate you. You decide who is in your PLN.
Tips for Creating a PLN:
- Find a faculty discussion group onsite
- In my case, it is a casual, monthly, face-to-face conversation about teaching and learning with a small group of college faculty
- It includes members from a cross-section of disciplines
- Participate in Twitter discussions
- Twitter discussions tend to be fast-paced, and because of the format, you don’t have to write too much
- I like to participate in the bi-weekly #UDLchat
- The discussion skews to K-12, but I find that helps to stretch my thinking, especially when I hear that Kindergarteners are using technology to support learning
- Join an Online Community
- I’ve been participating in eCampus Ontario’s Extend West program about 21st Century Learning
- We have weekly video based calls, Twitter activities, and more.
- Find a teaching buddy
- Faculty suggest all the time to students that they should buddy up with a classmate. Perhaps we could take the same approach.
- Mine just so happens to be my neighbour. She also teaches at the college level, but in a totally unrelated discipline which helps us to open up our collective thinking.
- If your interested is learning more about PLN’s, I encourage you to visit eCampus Ontario’s Extend website: Collaborator module . There you’ll find more about how and why PLNs work and ways to go about setting them up.
My PLN has helped me to connect with like minded faculty and to create a community. Plus, the people involved have pushed me to reflect on my teaching practice and motivated me to modify it where appropriate. I’m better for it and so too are my students.
Who are you connected to and how did you get connected?